- 4 Pillars of Protection
- Kickstarting the Economy
- Improving Education’s Impact
- Growing Agriculture
- Improving Public Safety
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Family-First Initiative
- Fighting Human Trafficking
- Rural Revitalization Project
- Preserving Pheasant Hunting
- Campaign Finance Reform
4 Pillars of Protection
Protection from Tax Increases. South Dakota is one of just seven states without an income tax – and we need to keep it that way. As governor, I pledge to veto efforts to increase taxes, and I’ve put that commitment in writing when I signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
Protection from Government Growth. Under my administration, there would be no new boards, no new commissions, and no new blue ribbon task forces. Instead, we would look to scrub each agency, refocusing and streamlining existing departments while cutting red tape.
Protection from Federal Intrusion. When the Army Corps attempted to charge South Dakota for use of our own water from the Missouri River, I successfully fought back as the state’s lone member of the House. When the federal government came after the Hot Springs VA, I advocated for South Dakota veterans. And when the Second Amendment was attacked, I stood up for our constitutional rights. As governor, I would do the same, working with the congressional delegation and leveraging my own relationships with federal leadership to protect our rights and way of life as South Dakotans.
Protection from Government Secrecy. Voters have repeatedly supported government integrity measures at the ballot box. I hear you. As governor, I will build on the recent momentum, working to throw open the doors, not only of the state capital, but also encouraging county commission offices and school boards to give you unprecedented access to the government decision-making process at all levels.
Kickstarting the Economy
South Dakota does a lot of things right, but our economy is falling behind. In fact, the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis report ranks South Dakota last for both GDP and personal income growth. We can do better. As governor, my goal will be to kickstart our economy – and not through more boards, commissions, or blue ribbon committees. Instead, I will lift the government burden from entrepreneurs, make it easier to work, and create new opportunities for South Dakotans to prosper.
AGENDA: FREEDOM TO BUILD
Maintain South Dakota’s low-tax legacy. The average South Dakota family of four will receive a $2,400 tax cut because of my work with President Trump last year. As one of 5 representatives from the 435-member House to negotiate the final tax reform deal, I fought for lower rates, a doubling of the Child Tax Credit, and reforms that have made America’s economy boom. Millions have received pay raises, bonuses, or increased benefits. Job creation is up. And despite leaving more money in people’s pockets, the resulting economic growth is expected to increase federal revenues $1 trillion over the long term, helping stabilize the budget. I will apply these same low-tax, pro-growth principles as governor and veto efforts to increase taxes. You’ve worked hard for your money; our state government must respect that.
Cut unnecessary regulations; Simplify those that remain. South Dakota’s limited regulatory environment is often why we rank as one of the nation’s best places to do business. It’s imperative we keep it that way. I’ve run a farm and ranch, a hunting lodge, and an insurance agency. If elected, I will use those experiences to instill a culture in which agencies think less like bureaucracies and more like the businesses they serve. As I have done every year in public office, I will fight to eliminate nonessential regulations and streamline the necessary administrative rules and statutes that remain – all with the goal of maintaining a level playing field and strengthening South Dakota job creators.
Make it easier to start and grow a business. While South Dakota’s regulatory environment is favorable in many instances, it can still be difficult to know exactly what’s required of a new business and what opportunities are out there to support a company’s growth. With efficiency and convenience in mind, my administration will:
- Employ pro-active people within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, providing them with sufficient training and instilling a culture of customer service;
- Modernize SDReadyToWork.com to significantly simplify the user experience;
- Search for opportunities to optimize convenience within the filing fee system; and
- Review the permitting structure to ensure it promotes economic development and respects local control.
Prioritize education programs that produce job-holders, not degree-holders. For decades, the priorities of employers and educators have failed to fully align. This leaves some young people with limited job prospects in their chosen career fields while many industries face difficulties recruiting skilled labor. If elected, I will work to bring area employers, the South Dakota Department of Education, the Board of Regents, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to the same table, strengthening relationships and focusing discussion around the workforce needs of today and tomorrow. Through this alliance, my administration will:
- Provide career counseling and information for students regarding in-demand jobs beginning at the middle-school level;
- Expand access to experience-driven technical training in high schools to inspire younger workers; and
- Dramatically increase shared-learning opportunities among high schools, technical schools, universities, and employers to better manage the transition from home to college to the South Dakota workforce.
Review state licensing requirements. Whether you’re an accountant, cosmetologist, landscape architect, or plumber, the state requires certain licenses before you can professionally practice your craft. While important in many respects, we must avoid any licensing process that prioritizes a person’s ability to properly fill out paperwork rather than do the job. As governor, I will direct the Department of Labor and Regulation, working with state professional organizations, to conduct a full review of licensing requirements. The review must explore: (1) the potential elimination of unnecessary professional licenses, (2) opportunities to streamline existing processes, including strategies to increase web-based tools, and (3) options to fast-track apprentices, technical school graduates, veterans, and military families, letting experience count so it’s easier to work in South Dakota.
Respect and reward work. Too often, government programs fail to reward work and instead increase dependency. Work requirements, which have been central to the reforms I’ve championed for Medicaid and food stamps, can help reverse that. If elected, I will continue, and look to expand where possible, the work requirements sought by Governor Daugaard. Additionally, I will direct the South Dakota departments of Social Services and Labor and Regulation to develop a pilot program linking able-bodied, non-elderly welfare recipients with the skills training necessary to qualify for good-paying, in-demand jobs.
THE PROSPER INITIATIVE
Invest in what’s made South Dakota great: the businesses already here. Many of South Dakota’s economic development efforts have focused on recruiting new businesses, leaving existing job creators behind. It’s a concern raised in nearly every listening session I’ve held on the topic. If elected, I will direct the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to expand its mission. While attracting the next growth industry should remain a priority, we must also invest in the businesses putting South Dakotans to work today, helping them grow from 5 employees to 10, 50, or more.
Let the country know South Dakota is Open for Business! We are home to an advantageous tax structure, an independent streak that helps keep regulations at a minimum, and a legendary work ethic backed by top-performing universities and technical schools. Through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, I will prioritize the identification and recruitment of America’s next growth industries, launching a new advertising campaign that promotes South Dakota’s winning formula to attract job creators.
Maintain South Dakota’s AAA Bond Rating. A well-functioning state government serves as a strong foundation for economic growth. The current administration was able to upgrade and maintain a AAA Bond Rating across the board. Rooted in fiscal conservatism, my administration will build on this success, making it a priority to retain the AAA rating. While saving taxpayers money, the rating can also be used as a recruiting tool to attract businesses looking for a stable state in which to grow jobs.
Improving Education’s Impact
We cannot underestimate the influence of a good education. Students gain confidence and upward mobility, communities often experience decreased crime rates, and employers get access to a skilled workforce, bringing good jobs and higher wages to the area. In many ways, South Dakota excels in the learning opportunities we provide, but as the parent of a high school sophomore, college student, and recent graduate, I can tell you our education system faces challenges too.
While recognizing many aspects of a child’s life influence educational success – from family dynamics to school lunches – my administration will work to improve K-12 outcomes and make post-secondary education more affordable and applicable to the modern workforce.
STRENGTHEN K-12 EDUCATION
South Dakota students consistently produce good test scores, graduate on time, and meet college readiness benchmarks. But many schools struggle to make ends meet, jeopardizing the long-term success of South Dakota’s K-12 education system. As governor, I will be committed to balancing the needs of families, teachers and administrators, and taxpayers as we prepare students for college, the workforce, and citizenship.
Empower families. When it comes to raising kids, family is better than government. As a conservative, I will protect the rights of parents to choose the educational path that’s best for their child, whether it’s homeschooling, public schooling, or a private education. Regardless of a family’s decision, I will work to ensure all students have equal opportunity within the education system.
Do more with every taxpayer dollar. Public education policy is too often evaluated by expenditures, rather than student success. That’s a mistake. We need to focus on creating a better system, not a more expensive one – a goal that can and should be accomplished without taking necessary resources out of classrooms. As governor, I would:
- Work to centralize and standardize purchasing, giving local schools more options to cut costs by taking advantage of the state’s massive buying power;
- Encourage schools to share resources and expand long-distance learning opportunities;
- Assist local school districts in pursuing private funds to mitigate the cost of capital projects;
- Continue leveraging the state’s AAA bond rating to help schools borrow at a lower cost;
- Reform the Department of Education, adopting a model that promotes much closer collaboration with locally elected school boards; and
- Improve transparency in school district budgeting, as proposed in my Sunshine Initiative.
Create a culture of performance. From teachers and administrators to school board members, South Dakota is fortunate to have many talented people dedicated to student success. I want to elevate high-performers while expanding continued learning opportunities for those running our classrooms and school districts. As governor, I will pursue public-private partnerships to financially reward rockstar teachers. For instance, I’d like to collaborate with local businesses to sponsor a robust “Teacher of the Month” program. Additionally, my administration will explore opportunities to improve overall performance through evidence-based school board training and teacher mentorship programs.
Reject Common Core and federal overreach. In the U.S. House, I helped get legislation signed into law limiting the federal government’s role in our education system. As governor, I will take advantage of those flexibilities, continuing to reject Common Core and seeking appropriate waivers and grants to customize South Dakota’s education system.
Promote civic education. Our republic only works if citizens are active and informed. The next generation of South Dakotans must understand the foundations of our nation, the tremendous sacrifices made to protect our constitutional rights, and the freedoms, liberties, and responsibilities we have as citizens. In collaboration with school districts, I will work to expand civics and U.S. history programs and encourage schools to include the citizenship test as part of their graduation criteria.
Encourage kids to explore in-demand jobs early. South Dakota already faces severe labor shortages, and even greater demands for a skilled workforce are on the horizon. As governor, I would work to:
- Provide career counseling and information regarding in-demand jobs beginning at the middle-school level;
- Inspire students by expanding experience-driven learning opportunities before college;
- Coordinate resources to identify and help at-risk children plan for their futures; and
- Dramatically increase shared-learning opportunities among high schools, technical schools, universities, and employers to better manage the transition from home to post-secondary education to the South Dakota workforce.
EQUIP POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS WITH JOB-READY SKILLS
My path to a college degree wasn’t typical. After my dad died, I left school and came home to manage our family’s farming operation full-time. Years later, I began taking classes again – this time, online – finally completing my degree while serving in Congress. Given this experience, I understand a four-year degree isn’t right for every high school graduate, and the truth is, it isn’t always right for our labor market either. Still, college graduates, on average, earn 56 percent more than high school graduates. As such, my administration will work to drive down the cost of a university or technical school degree, while focusing on producing job-holders, not simply degree-holders.
Increase affordability. South Dakota ranks near the top when it comes to student debt. That needs to change. As governor, I will:
- Simplify the scholarship application process. South Dakota has a robust scholarship network, but it can be confusing for students and families to navigate. Working with financial aid offices, my administration will help create a single, online repository for all scholarships. Additionally, I will take on the task of bringing state-allocated scholarships under a single umbrella, simplifying the process and building in cost-saving efficiencies.
- Challenge schools to prioritize affordability. Tuition costs have steadily increased in recent years. Working with the state legislature, my administration will challenge universities and technical schools to identify efficiencies and reinvest savings toward affordability.
- Increase on-time graduation. Just under 25 percent of South Dakota’s college students will graduate in four years; about 50 percent will do so in under six years. At the same time, about one in three are spending credit hours and hard-earned dollars on remedial courses. If we better prepare students in high school, we can reduce the likelihood of a fifth year in college, potentially shrinking their cost for higher education by 20 percent.
Arm students with job-ready skills and training. South Dakota has a legendary work ethic – one that my Kickstarting the Economy initiative seeks to harness. For decades, however, the priorities of employers and educators have failed to fully align. This leaves some young people with limited job prospects in their chosen career fields while many industries face difficulties recruiting skilled labor. To better fill good-paying jobs with South Dakota workers, I am committed to:
- Strengthening the relationship between area employers, state agencies, universities, and technical schools;
- Focusing state resources on high-need areas of the labor market;
- Expanding apprenticeship programs; and
- Working to ensure South Dakota technical schools and universities continue to lead the nation as one post-secondary system that is able to satisfy academic curiosities and meet tomorrow’s workforce needs.
Raised on the values of hard work and self-reliance, I grew up on a farm and ranch in rural Hamlin County. Just a few years after graduating high school, my dad died in a grain bin accident. I put my pursuit of a college degree on hold, returned to the family farm and ranch full-time, and helped stabilize the operation.
We survived bad droughts, bad floods, and bad policies, including the Death Tax. And while you can’t change the weather, you can change policy, which is exactly what I fought to do as South Dakota’s lone representative in the U.S. House.
In 2014, I helped successfully negotiate a strong Farm Bill that included livestock disaster assistance and critical safety nets for producers. When federal agencies considered proposals to regulate dust or limit the work some kids did on farms, I fought back – and won. During tax reform negotiations, I was one of the only farmers at the table, yet secured interest deductibility, immediate expensing, and lower rates for farmers and ranchers as part of the historic tax cut.
If elected, I will again leverage my experience as a lifelong producer to advance agriculture. From protecting property rights to expanding markets, my administration would be built to develop the state’s agricultural economy and give more young people the opportunity to thrive as farmers and ranchers in South Dakota.
AGRICULTURAL GROWTH INITIATIVE
Create a Blueprint for Agricultural Economic Development. With an annual economic impact of $25.6 billion, agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry. In recent years, however, deflated prices and lower-than-average yields have delivered a serious blow to the state’s economy. To build and diversify the sector, I will direct the Department of Agriculture and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to construct a Blueprint that broadens opportunities for existing farms and ranches and helps identify and recruit our next ag-related growth industries.
Equip South Dakotans with the skills needed to succeed in agriculture. The average South Dakota farmer is 57 years old, meaning many will be at or near retirement in the next decade. To meet our long-term needs, it’s time we ready the next generation to fulfill global food demands. As governor, I will work to expand education and increase investments in production-boosting research, such as biotechnology and precision ag. More specifically, I am committed to:
- Encouraging strong support of 4-H and FFA programs;
- Dramatically increasing shared-learning opportunities among universities, technical programs, and high schools for ag education and skills training;
- Continuing investments into SDSU’s first-in-the-nation precision agriculture degree program;
- Completing SDSU’s precision ag building, which the state legislature recently approved;
- Promoting cross-training between students at SDSU and technical schools, like Lake Area Tech;
- Ensuring South Dakota continues to host a vibrant State Fair; and
- Enhancing the Governor’s Ag Summit to increase access and educational offerings.
Review permitting structure to ensure it promotes economic development and respects local control. When new businesses are recruited to South Dakota, they must go through a series of permitting approvals at the state, county, and local levels. To increase certainty for those looking to invest and expand in South Dakota, my administration would undergo a thorough review of the current permitting system, working hand-in-hand with counties to improve the process.
Add value to South Dakota-grown commodities and livestock. There is no work ethic like a South Dakota work ethic. With agriculture as the foundation, we can leverage that homegrown ambition and add value to every bushel produced. If elected, I will direct the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to prioritize value-added agriculture, thoroughly vetting new processing, agricultural biotechnology, and manufacturing opportunities and offering upward mobility to more South Dakotans than ever before.
Bolster Livestock Disease Preparedness. With increasing trade, both foreign and domestic, risk of foot-and-mouth, avian influenza, and many other diseases has greatly increased in recent years. But South Dakota – backed by SDSU’s world-class animal disease research program, including the new laboratory that is currently under construction – is uniquely positioned to improve livestock disease management practices. Working with the university, the Animal Industry Board, the State Veterinarian, and our growing biotech industry, we can mitigate economic and environmental impacts while improving overall herd and flock health.
Enhance infrastructure to support farmers and grow the economy. With falling prices and a rising basis, many producers are feeling the pinch. As governor, I will work to improve the state’s infrastructure to lower the basis for grain products, putting more money in the hands of hardworking farmers and growing our economy.
Transition the state vehicle fleet to higher ethanol blends. For years, I’ve strongly defended policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which sets annual goals for the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must be incorporated into America’s fuel supply. Additionally, I led efforts to extend the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit. With volatility growing in oil-rich areas of the world, we must maximize the use of homegrown fuels. As governor, I will lead by example and work to transition the state fleet to higher ethanol blends, such as E-30.
Expand working lands conservation. As a lifelong producer and avid hunter, I deeply understand the careful balance between production and conservation. In the U.S. House, I fought to expand the sodsaver program, incentivizing the protection of native grasslands while ensuring the choice was ultimately left to producers. As governor, I will expand voluntary conservation programs by improving landowner relationships. Working together, we can boost soil health and increase productivity on every acre, using precision agriculture to help farmers determine which areas may be best for cultivation while conserving the rest.
Voters have repeatedly supported government integrity measures at the ballot box. I hear you. As governor, I will build on the recent momentum, working to throw open the doors, not only of the state capital, but also encouraging county commission offices and school boards to give you unprecedented access to the government decision-making process at all levels.
For nearly a century, South Dakota was known as “The Sunshine State”, a name sewn into our flag until 1992. I want to embrace the spirit of that motto once again, shedding new light on the inner-workings of state and local government through my Sunshine Initiative.
- Bring Debates from the Boardroom to the Living Room. Too many important decisions are made in small meeting rooms with limited public access. Using free technologies like YouTube and Facebook Live, I will work to bring these meetings into every home, moving toward an aggressive goal of having state board, county commission, and school board meetings live streamed.
- Modernize and Expand Open.SD.gov. Knowledge is power. As governor, I would work with the state legislature to encourage the universal posting of all agendas, minutes, and livestreams to a modernized and easily searchable Open.SD.gov.
- Develop an Online Property Tax Toolkit. Where do your property tax dollars go? To the state? The county? The school district ? Working in collaboration with the Department of Revenue and using Geographical Information System data, my administration would build out a Property Tax Toolkit that would operate as a digital disclosure database. Here, South Dakotans could easily see how many dollars go to the school district, the county, the state, and elsewhere – at anytime. It would be paired with links to available programmatic information as well as updates on how to participate in any public debates.
- Enable Independent Reporting to Hold State and Local Government Genuinely Accountable. Fact-based reporting can be a valuable tool in upholding the integrity of government entities. On the federal level, it helped shine a light on VA abuses against our veterans. In the state, it’s essential in getting to the bottom of the recent EB-5 and GEAR UP scandals. Even so, South Dakota reporters can be forced to testify for investigating important stories. If elected, I would support a commonsense Reporter Shield law, protecting the constitutional right to a free and independent press.
- Limit Confidential Settlement Agreements. You deserve to know how your money is being spent, but current law allows the state to negotiate confidentiality agreements so as to protect wrongdoers – even when your tax dollars are used to pay out a settlement. As governor, I would work to limit the state’s ability to engage in secret transactions like this, allowing it only when necessary to protect a victim’s privacy.
- Review Open Meetings Laws. Executive sessions allow state and local governments to conduct certain business behind closed doors. While necessary in some instances (such as when a school board is discussing hiring or firing personnel ), these sessions should not be used to hide budget discussions and other important debates from public view. As governor, I would conduct a full review of existing open meetings laws and work to move as much official debate as possible into the public domain.
Improving Public Safety
South Dakota’s crime rate nearly doubled between 2005 and 2015. Violent crimes and drug-related offenses, in particular, have seen significant increases, which earlier this year forced the Argus Leader to ask: “Is South Dakota more violent than it’s ever been?”
I stand firmly behind the dedicated work of our law enforcement officers. To better enable their success in the field, improvements in the way the state approaches mental health and criminal justice are warranted. As governor, I am committed to being a partner to law enforcement, providing leadership and working collaboratively to create an environment in which both families and growing businesses can feel safe to call South Dakota home.
PREVENT WHEN POSSIBLE
Close the gateways. Whether the gateway drug is marijuana or a legal prescription painkiller, the slope toward addiction can often be a slippery one. As governor, I will oppose all attempts to legalize marijuana. At the same time, I will work with medical professionals and the state legislature to enact reasonable limits on opioid prescriptions and support provider education and training.
Implement research-based meth prevention programs. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under age 50. In South Dakota, drug use, including methamphetamine use, is rising dramatically. In fact, drug arrests hit their highest point in a decade last year. We must change course. My administration will work to expand evidence-based education and prevention programs. Every South Dakotan should know and understand the signs of addiction as well as the dangers of meth use to aid in early intervention.
Get proactive on mental health. The criminal justice system is the state’s largest provider for the mentally ill, a costly responsibility it’s not fully equipped to handle. As governor, I would:
- Work to ensure there are an array of mental-health options throughout the state by leveraging tele-psychiatry, expanding resources in schools, and supporting a mental health facility West River;
- Promote crisis intervention training and help assemble local crisis response teams to support law enforcement;
- Partner with Employee Assistance Programs to expand options for South Dakotans, helping individuals with mental health needs before they commit offenses; and
- Support ongoing pilot programs that divert non-violent offenders with mental illness through treatment programs, rather than the criminal justice system, expanding those programs which produce positive outcomes.
Support local control of school safety. I believe local communities must have the ability to decide how to best protect their students. In the U.S. House, I helped pass legislation that gives schools more financial flexibility and resources to make those important decisions, while also creating more options for schools to engage mental health professionals. As governor, I will take the same approach, ensuring schools and communities have the flexibilities needed to assert local control and protect our kids.
Improve collaboration with Tribal Governments. Because federal and tribal authorities have jurisdiction over many crimes that occur on sovereign reservations, it’s imperative these entities have a strong relationship with the state. As governor, I would work to better collaborate with area tribes by opening dialogues on jurisdictional challenges, re-engaging on memorandums of understanding, and helping coordinate responses.
INTERVENE WHEN NEEDED
Equip law enforcement to fully enforce the law. As a conservative, I believe leaders have a responsibility to minimize government intrusion but maximize its impact. This is as true in criminal justice as it is anywhere else. South Dakota has always been a law-and-order, tough-on-crime state. I support that. But no matter how tough our laws are, they aren’t effective if law enforcement doesn’t have the technological, financial, or investigative resources necessary to enforce those laws. While working to maintain strong relationships between officers and the neighborhoods they serve, I am committed to ensuring law enforcement have technologies, such as body cameras, and the enforcement tools necessary to keep us and themselves safe – both in our communities and online.
Support specialty courts and evidence-driven programming. Because the swift and certain sanctions hold offenders more accountable, specialty courts help solve underlying problems to reduce recidivism long-term. Moreover, with uniquely trained judges, specialty courts are often more efficient than traditional criminal justice models. In consultation with Police Departments, Sheriff’s Offices, and States Attorneys, I would partner with the judicial system to incentivize the use of specialty courts as well as expand evidence-driven programming for non-violent offenders.
Leverage federal resources. I’ve fought alongside President Trump to strengthen support for law enforcement, including the expansion of the Community Oriented Policing Services grant. Having served as South Dakota’s lone member of the U.S. House, I understand how these dollars flow to states. I will leverage that knowledge to ensure South Dakota law enforcement have access to every available resource.
REHABILITATE WHEN EFFECTIVE
Expand residential and family-based treatment options. Drug treatment programs that keep people out of jails, families together, and children out of foster care have proven to produce more effective outcomes in many cases. As governor, my administration will work to expand residential and family-based treatment options in South Dakota.
Prioritize victim-centered responses. We must keep the needs of victims at the center of our criminal justice system. Today, victim-service providers are active throughout South Dakota, assisting crime victims and ensuring their rights are protected. As governor, I will work to strengthen coordination between providers to further a trauma-informed, victim-centered response.
End the cycle of crime. If South Dakota taxpayers are asked to spend money to incarcerate an offender, our criminal justice system must work to reduce the likelihood that individual will reoffend. Recognizing that at least 95 percent of prisoners will be released at some point, we must strengthen our parole, re-entry, and rehabilitation programs. Workforce training is a critical component of this, and I’m committed to expanding successful ventures, such as the Housing Development Authority’s Governor’s House program. In this way, our criminal justice system will adhere to the same degree of accountability we expect from every area of government.
Transportation and Infrastructure
South Dakota has around 82,000 miles of public roadway. That, on top of 5,000+ bridges and 1,800+ freight railroad miles, creates an intricate surface transportation network with more miles of infrastructure per capita than almost any state in the nation. Much of this is maintained through a carefully balanced alliance of federal, state and local governments.
As a member of the U.S. House, I helped move the decade’s first long-term transportation bill to passage. Signed into law in 2015, the legislation cut red tape, increased support for South Dakota projects by 10 percent, and gave state and local governments more flexibility to address their unique infrastructure needs. As governor, I will maximize resources to fuel economic opportunity, increase safety for our families and communities, and encourage greater collaboration between state, county and local governments.
AGENDA: BUILD SOUTH DAKOTA
Prioritize road repairs. While recent investments have helped improve overall conditions, many South Dakota roads are still in need of repair. We can meet these needs without raising taxes. As governor, I will direct the South Dakota Department of Transportation to collaborate with local and county governments in prioritizing road repairs. It’s critical the state respect local input during this process, working hand-in-hand to achieve even greater efficiency and always moving toward improved safety and the freer flow of commerce.
Maximize Bridge Improvement Grant resources. Nearly one in five South Dakota bridges were rated “Structurally Deficient” by the U.S. Transportation Department in 2017. While maintaining full funding of the Bridge Improvement Grant program, my administration will work directly with counties and local governments to build greater efficiency, where possible, into their project plans and remove roadblocks. In this way, we will stretch existing resources as far as possible.
Enhance railways to support farmers and grow the economy. While serving in the U.S. House, I strongly and successfully advocated for federal TIGER Grants that supported South Dakota projects. These grants enabled the rail upgrades necessary to move commodities to market more quickly. Under a Noem administration, we will make it a top priority to compete for and win these grants to further enhance rail service and lower the basis for grain products, putting more money in the hands of hardworking farmers and growing the South Dakota economy.
Protect South Dakota’s small and regional airports. Like our highways and roads, air service is a network. Ensuring South Dakota remains connected through our smaller and regional airports must be a priority. As governor, I will protect infrastructure investments for our aviation network, as I’ve done while serving in the U.S. House. Additionally, I will work to ensure the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol, which often provides essential services during state emergencies, and the general aviation community continue to have access to the airports they need to operate.
Equip South Dakotans to fill good-paying infrastructure jobs. We already face a labor shortage, and still, even greater workforce demands are on the horizon. In South Dakota, the average tradesman is 41 years old, meaning many will be at or near retirement by the end of the next decade. To meet our long-term needs, I’m committed to:
- Bolstering Governor’s Office of Economic Development investments in programs that build awareness of the industry’s career potential and aid in recruiting new talent;
- Expanding access to experience-driven technical training at the high-school level; and
- Strengthening partnerships between state technical schools and employers to graduate 25% more apprentices by 2022. This will enable us to grow our skilled workforce and better fill good-paying infrastructure jobs with South Dakota workers.
Keep the regulatory burden low. President Trump has made the streamlining of infrastructure regulations a goal of his administration, and what an incredible story South Dakota has to share on this front! As governor, I will lead by example and partner with President Trump to streamline federal permitting processes that weigh down South Dakota developers. In doing so, I will always keep five goals in mind: (1) provide clarity to project managers regarding the process, (2) improve the timeliness of project completion, (3) offer flexibility on implementation while upholding strict outcome standards, (4) reduce costs, and (5) maintain safety.
Leverage experience to maximize federal resources. More than half of South Dakota Department of Transportation funding is federal. Simply put, it is in the country’s interest to have a well-maintained national transportation network. My work on highway legislation gave me firsthand insight into how federal highway dollars flow to South Dakota. The unmatched experience I bring to the table, along with the deep relationships I’ve built with national leaders and the Trump administration, will serve South Dakota well. I will work to maximize these federal resources, defend the formula going forward, and fully justify why it is essential to continue investing in America’s Heartland.
My husband, Bryon, and I are blessed with three incredible kids, who are surrounded by aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents that love them and continually invest in their education and upbringing. Our faith and that strong family unit has helped us get through the tough times, and in many respects, compelled me to leave college after my dad’s death, return to the farm and ranch full-time, and dedicate my life to building on the dreams my parents had for their children.
We share this family-focused mentality with many in the state, which is one of the things that makes South Dakota so special. It’s a value we must fight to preserve, however, as recent cultural shifts are weakening households and often inserting government where family should be. But I’m committed to being a family-first governor, fighting to strengthen the family unit and preserve the values South Dakota has long embraced.
Defend family values from the very beginning. I am pro-life, something my record will always reflect. In Congress, where I earned a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life, I’ve worked to systematically toughen abortion laws, supporting a full abortion ban as well as the Heartbeat Protection Act while getting the House to pass a prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks. I continue to work toward fully defunding Planned Parenthood but was thrilled President Trump signed legislation I helped champion so states aren’t forced to give family-planning dollars to abortion providers. With a newly appointed pro-life justice on the Supreme Court, I’m optimistic we are on the cusp of securing permanent protections for the unborn. As governor, I want to make sure South Dakota can play a leading role in that effort, a commitment that’s earned the endorsement of the conservative Susan B. Anthony List. If elected, I will:
- Assign an Unborn Person Advocate within the governor’s office to monitor, report, and recommend legislative and policy changes;
- Actively pursue all available legislative options to stop abortion and protect the lives of unborn babies;
- Oppose any efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide; and
- Work to proactively defend South Dakota’s pro-life policies, engaging the top legal minds to litigate on behalf of our values, if necessary.
Protect religious liberty and traditional marriage. Marriage is a special, God-given union between one man and one woman. With the drop of a gavel, however, the Supreme Court attempted to silence those of us who believe in traditional marriage. As governor, I will defend our culture and values, fighting federal intrusion on our deeply held beliefs and working to protect the religious liberties of individuals and businesses.
Decrease dependency by making it easier for parents to work. It can be incredibly powerful for kids to see their parents provide for their family. Unfortunately, many of today’s programs perpetuate dependency instead of incentivizing work. To put that another way, we make it easy to sign up for programs, but difficult to qualify for a good-paying job. I want to change that as governor. More specifically, I will:
- Encourage flexibility for parents pursuing new skills at South Dakota tech schools and universities. I wasn’t able to finish my college degree until after our kids were born, so I understand how hard it can be to parent, work, and go to school at the same time. To ensure parents can get the qualifications needed for a good-paying job, I will work with South Dakota universities and tech schools to offer options for more flexible course loads.
- Help give parents the support needed to choose the child care that fits their family structure. For many families, child care is not an option, but a necessity – and an expensive one at that. In fact, about one of every four dollars a South Dakota family earns goes to child care. When negotiating tax reform, I ensured a portion of these costs could be deducted from your federal income taxes. As governor, I will take a comprehensive approach to reducing the financial strain of childcare, exploring options to alleviate certain licensing and regulatory costs, increase the number of childcare providers, and better support evidence-driven early education programs.
- Strengthen work requirements. A good job is the best poverty-reduction tool. Work requirements, which have been central to the reforms I’ve championed for Medicaid and food stamps, are an essential tool in encouraging work. If elected, I will continue, and look to expand where possible, the work requirements sought by Governor Daugaard.
- Increase child support accountability. There are far too many cases of noncustodial parents avoiding child support requirements. As governor, I will encourage the legislature to strengthen accountability measures. We cannot allow parents to shirk their parental responsibilities.
Recognize good parenting is a learned skill. Too often, public policies attempt to fill parenting gaps with government. Conservatives, however, understand these gaps are best filled by the parents themselves. With that in mind, I am focused on strategies that simply help parents be parents again. I’d like to expand family education programs to better prevent domestic violence and intervene before it occurs in the home. My administration would also encourage high schools to invest in family and consumer science programs, sharing the value of strong family units and building an understanding of the responsibilities that come with a household.
Respect parental rights. When it comes to raising kids, family is better than government. As a conservative, I will protect the rights of parents to choose the educational path that’s best for their child, whether it’s public schooling, homeschooling, or a private education. Regardless of a family’s decision, I will work to ensure all students have equal opportunity within the education system.
Support military family readiness programs. The South Dakota National Guard is renowned for its outstanding family readiness programs, earning top honors nationally in five of the last six years. As governor, I will continue to support the South Dakota National Guard and work through state agencies, local communities, and military families to expand these critical programs and help ensure the family unit doesn’t suffer during a parent’s deployment.
Expand residential and family-based drug treatment options. Prevention is critical, but when drug treatment programs are necessary, those that keep families together and children out of foster care have proven to produce more effective outcomes in some cases. As governor, my administration will work to expand residential and family-based treatment options in South Dakota.
Connect incarcerated moms and dads with parenting education and employment resources. Nearly one in 10 South Dakota kids have had a parent incarcerated at some point during their childhood. As governor, I will work to partner with faith-based groups in order to expand pro-family education opportunities and bonding experiences in our prisons and jails, while offering skills training to help ensure released offenders can support their families upon exiting the criminal justice system.
Make strong families a priority in all government activities. Strong families create strong communities, “nurturing, preserving, and passing on to each succeeding generation the values … that are the foundation of our freedoms,” as President Reagan once said. Because of this understanding, I will not raise taxes on families, grow government, or allow federal bureaucrats to tell us how to live. Family must remain the central figure in our public policy.
Fighting Human Trafficking
Prevent. Intervene. Recover.
By some estimates, 100,000 individuals are trafficked in the U.S. each year, most of them women and many of them children. Sadly, South Dakota is not immune. Month after month, we read stomach-churning reports of sex trafficking from across the state. There is a role each of us can play in fighting trafficking by simply understanding what to look out for, but a broader policy shift needs to occur as well to better prevent trafficking, intervene when it does occur, and help survivors rebuild.
This is a crime I’ve battled for years. In the U.S. House, I championed the decade’s most comprehensive anti-trafficking initiative in 2015. The legislation enhanced law enforcement tools, better supported intervention programs, and provided additional resources to survivors. Still, my work continues. Since the 2015 bill became law, I’ve pushed legislation to expand trafficking demand reduction programs, go after online actors who knowingly facilitate trafficking, and help survivors with housing and other needs.
But not every solution to human trafficking is a federal solution. As governor, I would…
- Get tough on those who sell, buy, or market trafficking victims for sex. Whether you’re a trafficker, a website that facilitates trafficking, or someone who purchases trafficking victims for sex, your activity will have no place in South Dakota. As Governor, I will ensure South Dakota does not go easy on perpetrators – the punishment will fit the heinousness of these crimes.
- Make sure traffickers pay. Traffickers make an estimated $150 billion annually, according to the International Labor Organization. If elected governor, I will fight to strengthen the state’s restitution laws in trafficking cases, bringing justice and offering victims more financial support for medical and mental health services, housing, childcare and other related expenses.
- Expand intervention training to first responders and medical professionals. Research indicates more than 85% of survivors received medical treatment while being trafficked, but the vast majority of healthcare professionals have never received training on how to identify a victim or intervene should they suspect something is going on. We must leverage federal and state training resources, in partnership with nonprofits and professional organizations, to ensure South Dakota’s healthcare professionals are equipped to identify and intervene when a victim enters the exam room.
- Secure access to emergency and transitional housing. A home is so often where recovery begins, and yet, transitional housing for sex trafficking survivors is scarce. In many cases, sex trafficking survivors require stronger security protocols and different support services than other victims of violence. If elected, I would expand existing grant programs in order to offer transitional housing, healing, and hope to many more trafficking survivors.
Rural Revitalization Project
I am proud to be from rural South Dakota. It’s where I learned the values of hardwork and self-reliance, where Bryon and I chose to raise our kids, where we started an insurance business and hunting lodge, and where my family has farmed and ranched for acentury. But many small towns like ours are struggling today. Class sizes are dropping. Businesses can’t afford to stay open. And fewer kids are coming home to farm or ranch.
In fact, while South Dakota has grown by more than 100,000 people since 2000, rural populations have diminished. Seeing our larger communities flourish is exciting, but I want to make sure we don’t lose South Dakota’s rural culture either. As governor, I will work to bring more resources in to rural areas, expanding broadband, promoting economic development, enhancing healthcare, and focusing on K-12 schools.
A good internet connection can allow any entrepreneur to sell globally, while hiring locally. By expanding rural broadband and enhancing cell service, area businesses can grow their customer base without leaving town; families can better connect with their doctors; and students can learn from teachers a world away. In many rural areas, however, broadband deployment lags behind, largely because of the disproportionate expense of installation and maintenance.
In the U.S. House, I have pushed the Federal Communications Commission on creating a fairer and more rural-friendly Universal Service Fund formula to accelerate broadband’s deployment in remote areas. This work will continue if elected governor. Additionally, I will look to expand resources in this area, while ensuring state agencies continue to embrace broadband-friendly policies.
To grow families in rural South Dakota, we need jobs in rural South Dakota. As I’ve laid out in my Agricultural Growth Initiative and Build South Dakota Agenda, I will (1) equip students with the skills needed to succeed in ag-related industries, (2) review permitting structures to be sure they promote economic development and respect local control, (3) expand opportunities for value-added agriculture, and (4) improve rural infrastructure.
Local healthcare providers have been relentless in expanding access through a robust network of rural clinics and innovative telehealth technologies, dramatically shrinking the distance between residents and state-of-the-art care. To build on these successes, we must grow the healthcare workforce in rural South Dakota. As governor, I will work directly with state professional organizations to develop forward-thinking recruitment and retention strategies, while also reviewing licensing requirements. Additionally, I will pursue federal waivers and grants, as appropriate, to better customize healthcare programs to South Dakota’s needs.
The school is the life blood of many rural communities, but most struggle to make ends meet, recruit qualified teachers, or maintain enrollment numbers. Under my administration, the Department of Education will work to develop a pilot program to fill teacher shortages in high-need areas, exploring options such as new incentive programs for local working professionals and enhanced mentoring of teachers. While I will also work to improve efficiencies, increase local decision making, and empower schools to share resources, I believe the most sustainable way to strengthen rural schools is to expand economic opportunity. If a family can’t make a living in a rural community, they will pull their kids from the school district and move. I am fully committed to revitalizing South Dakota’s rural culture, so small-town schools and businesses can thrive for generations to come.
Preserving Pheasant Hunting
The Second Century Initiative
As much as pheasant season is a family tradition for us, we made it our family business for years as well, running a hunting lodge in northeastern South Dakota. Small businesses like that come alive during Pheasant Season, as resident and non-resident bird hunters spend nearly a quarter-billion dollars in South Dakota.
As we celebrate 100 years of pheasant hunting, I give you a commitment that if elected governor, I would fight to ensure this family tradition and driver of our economy lasts a century more.
IT’S ABOUT HABITAT…
I am proud our family has prime pheasant habitat on some of our land. We’ve fought to preserve those grounds over the years and have long participated in the CRP program. But as land values have increased, areas like this have begun to disappear, gravely impacting pheasant populations. In fact, statewide pheasant populations have fallen 65 percent in the last decade.
For this reason, I fought for and won sodsaver protections in the 2014 Farm Bill, which help preserve our region’s native grasslands. Additionally, I continue to push federal policymakers to enhance CRP through the Farm Bill. As governor, I will expand habitat and pheasant hunting opportunities in South Dakota through my Second Century Initiative.
- Increase resources for habitat management – without raising taxes. Maintaining and improving habitat is essential to the future of pheasant hunting in South Dakota. We can invest in habitat management, and we can do so without raising taxes by broadening the base of support in a multitude of ways, including:
- Working with the Division of Motor Vehicles and Game, Fish and Parks to develop a specialty pheasant license plate program in which all proceeds would go directly toward habitat management.
- Directing Game, Fish and Parks to explore outside-the-box, voluntary funding solutions, such as an expanded Premium Guest Tag program, in which a limited number of non-resident tags would be reserved at premium pricing. Programs like this have proven exceptionally lucrative in neighboring states. All proceeds would again go directly to habitat.
- Crowd source habitat solutions. Pheasant hunting is a statewide tradition with statewide economic impact, so maintaining and growing the industry requires statewide involvement. Taking advantage of online capabilities, my administration will expand the capabilities at habitat.sd.gov to ensure every South Dakotan, not just those on assigned advisory boards or in Pierre, can directly contribute to the policymaking process. Should your ideas be implemented, your hunting license fees for that year ought to be waived as well.
- Target predators, while inspiring the next generation of South Dakota hunters. While habitat has the most significant impact on pheasant populations, predators (such as foxes, skunks, and raccoons ) play a role as well. My administration will collaborate with counties to explore a bounty on pheasant predators in prime hunting areas, using the program to reduce threatening varmint populations and to help inspire the next generation of hunters to be part of this South Dakota legacy.
- Maintain habitat management as a national priority. As a top negotiator of the 2014 Farm Bill, I fought to enhance CRP, and when the Obama administration accepted just 101 acres into CRP in South Dakota in 2016, I fought back. I will take up that same cause as South Dakota’s governor. Working in partnership with groups like Pheasants Forever, I will leverage the relationships I have around the country to win over CRP and habitat advocates in Congress, the administration, the Republican Governors Association, and the National Governors Association. This broad base of support is essential in maintaining federal programs like CRP.
- Serve as Sportsman in Chief for South Dakota Pheasant Hunting. In 2016, 81,000 non-resident pheasant hunters spent more than $156 million in the state. As someone who ran her own hunting lodge, I know what those dollars mean to local businesses. As governor, I am committed to being South Dakota’s Sportsman in Chief, doing my part in bringing new business to hunting lodges, preserves, restaurants and others across the state
Campaign Finance Reform
Restoring Transparency & Integrity in South Dakota Campaign Financing
Current campaign finance laws in South Dakota contain loopholes that could allow corporations and individuals to shatter campaign contribution limitations.
While reforms are needed to address these problems, I will not wait to act until the campaign finance laws catch up to what’s right. I will lead by example. I have not and will not take corporate contributions, nor will my campaign take funds from Political Action Committees that were established with the intent to circumvent individual contribution limits. And if elected as your governor, I will work with the legislature to close these loopholes.
If we are going to change the culture of South Dakota politics, we need to set a standard of genuine accountability from the very beginning.
KRISTI NOEM’S CAMPAIGN FINANCE AGENDA
- Ban corporate contributions. Big money in politics often leads to bigger government, conflicts of interest and potentially scandal. I will lead from the front on this issue. While corporate contributions became legal in South Dakota in 2017, I have not and will not accept them. If elected Governor, I will push to once again prohibit corporate campaign contributions.
- Limit Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions to a candidate committee. Individuals are under strict limitations as to the amount they can legally contribute to a political candidate in South Dakota. PAC contributions are currently unlimited. Moreover, there is potential for PACs to be created with the sole purpose of evading the individual contribution limits and attempting to obscure the source of campaign funds from public scrutiny. Like both individual contributions and PAC contributions to federal candidates are, PAC contributions to state candidates should be limited.
- Close the loophole that allows donors to shatter individual contribution limits. Under current law,an individual can contribute $4,000 to a candidate committee each calendar year. At the same time, they can write a $10,000 check to a PAC each calendar year. There are currently no safeguards in place to ensure individuals don’t contribute $4,000 directly and then another $10,000 through a PAC that was established with the intention of circumventing South Dakota’s contribution limits.